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NFL quarterback rankings 2021: How all 32 teams' QBs stack up and weekly big takeaways

We are through 12 weeks of the 2021 season, and we saw some more uneven play under center. Joe Burrow helped the Bengals hang 41 points on the Steelers, Mac Jones continued his stellar rookie campaign, and Tua Tagovailoa impressed in the Dolphins' fourth straight win. But Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Jalen Hurts had plenty of issues in losses.

On a weekly basis throughout the season, I will rate my current confidence in each quarterback's play. Who is unstoppable and in the MVP conversation? Who is struggling and needs to find consistency? Who is rising, and who is falling, after each week's game slate? Which rookies are exceeding expectations, and which veterans are leading their offenses to playoff contention? And remember, this is based on the present, not future potential.

True backups will not be included, though teams with multiple legitimate starting options might have multiple QBs listed in the rankings. Backups in line to play for injured starters will also be ranked. The list will be accompanied each week by some of the biggest takeaways and lingering thoughts from the recent performances under center, including what both the tape and numbers say about some of the game's starting quarterbacks. Here are this week's QB rankings and some notes regarding the position.

Last updated: Dec. 1

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Rankings | Week 12 takeaways

Tannenbaum's current QB rankings

Biggest takeaways from Week 12

  • New England's Mac Jones had a career-high 310 passing yards in Sunday's win against Tennessee. He completed all 11 of his play-action pass attempts for 169 yards, the most without an incompletion since Russell Wilson had 13 in Week 8 of 2020. Jones and the Patriots now have three straight wins by 20-plus points, and per ESPN Stats & Information, the only other team/rookie QB to achieve that was also Wilson, when the Seahawks did it over Weeks 14-16 in 2012.

  • The Colts' Carson Wentz showcased exceptional play on Sunday but also had three turnovers in the loss to Tampa Bay. He went 27-of-44 for 306 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble lost. The key play for him was a 62-yard TD pass to receiver Ashton Dulin that traveled 58.2 yards in the air. It was Wentz' longest completion this season, and he is responsible for the ninth, 10th and 11th longest completions by air distance league-wide this year, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

  • Ravens signal-caller Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions in Sunday night's win over Cleveland, but he actually excelled under pressure. He completed four of five passes under pressure for 60 yards and a touchdown, and he had a plus-26.9% completion percentage over expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats. All four of Jackson's picks came without pressure and while targeting tight end Mark Andrews.

  • I saw Joe Burrow in person on Sunday, calling the Bengals' win against the Steelers with ESPN radio. The second-year QB was outstanding, as he exploited the Tee Higgins/James Pierre matchup. Burrow was accurate, threw with accuracy and anticipation, and played like a top-flight NFL QB. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he was a perfect 10-of-10 for 113 yards with a touchdown on first down, too. Burrow rose to No. 6 in my rankings this week.

  • Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts took a step back on Sunday. He made some bad decisions against the Giants. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he attempted a career-high 39% of his passes into tight windows (1 yard or less of separation) on Sunday and went 2-of-12 with an interception on such throws. He has now completed a league-low 20% of his tight-window throws for the season. Hurts had a chance to still win the game but was hit with some untimely drops. I'm sure the Eagles were hoping for a more consistent performance, and in my opinion, the jury is still out on his viability as a starting NFL QB.

  • Here comes the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa, climbing 19 spots into the top 15 of my rankings. He deserves it. Tagovailoa completed all 19 of his quick passes (less than 2.5 seconds to throw) for 133 yards and a TD in the Dolphins' victory over the Panthers. It was the most quick-pass completions without an incompletion in a single game since 2016, when NFL Next Gen Stats started tracking them. Tagovailoa is playing significantly better, and it serves as a great reminder that not all young QBs develop on the same timeline. His progress is intriguing and a big reason that Miami has won four in a row.

  • Matthew Stafford's two turnovers (a fumble and an interception) were costly for the Rams on Sunday. It was his third straight game with a pick-six, too. Stafford is the first quarterback with a pick-six in three straight games since Matt Schaub did it in four straight in 2013. He has as many pick-sixes in his past three games as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers does in his entire career. The Rams look out of sorts right now, and it starts with Stafford. I'm not panicking, but if I'm the Rams, I'm at the very least concerned.

  • Carolina's Cam Newton really struggled on Sunday. He was 5-of-21 for 92 yards, zero TDs and an interception. His completion percentage of 23.8% is the lowest for a former MVP in a game with at least 20 pass attempts. And according to NFL Next Gen Stats, Newton's minus-40% completion percentage over expectation was the second worst in a game by any QB this season (min. 14 attempts), behind only teammate P.J. Walker (minus-41% in Week 7). I dropped Newton nine spots on the board this week.